5 online appointment scheduling tips and tricks to streamline your healthcare practice

Online Appointment Scheduling

5 appointment scheduling tips and tricks to streamline your healthcare practice

Table of Contents

Introduction to online appointment scheduling

Recent technological advancements have transformed the healthcare industry in a variety of aspects, right from modern medical equipment to the digitization of operations. From dentists to veterinarians, from general physicians to oncologists; every healthcare provider is benefitting particularly from digitization. For healthcare providers, online appointment scheduling has come out to be an excellent option to invest in. But why does your business need an online system? What benefits does this bring along? What tips can you follow to ensure seamless online appointment scheduling? This article will equip you with just the insights you need to streamline your practice. If you are a healthcare practitioner, providing excellent services to improve patient care must be your top priority. But merely providing good care isn’t enough. You also need to have a proper system in place to ensure that all patients that visit you experience a seamless process, right from booking appointments to availing treatment. 

Why does your practice need an online appointment scheduling system? 

As a healthcare provider, you must have tons of operations to take care of at your practice. Do you often see your front desk swamped? Do you face difficulty in accommodating emergencies? Are you unable to keep wait times low? If you are facing any of the aforementioned challenges, then you need to have sound online appointment scheduling practices in place. These practices are necessary not just for your convenience but for your customers as well. 

Here are some key features of appointment scheduling software: 

Boost in revenue 

All local businesses, including healthcare practices that have incorporated online booking systems into their websites, have witnessed a 120 percent surge in revenue. It is the ease of operation of these online systems that makes them stand out. 

More competitive advantage 

As per statistics, 80 percent of customers prefer a medical practice that offers ease of booking, cancelling, and changing appointments. This means that having an online appointment scheduling system by your side can have that percentage of customers inclined towards your practice. This can give you the much-needed competitive edge and help you acquire more customers.

Round-the-clock appointments

Did you know that about 52 percent of healthcare practices spend nearly 10 hours a week scheduling and confirming appointments, and responding to emails and calls? Imagine if this authority was given to the customers. A lot of customers prefer booking appointments online as they need not have to wait in-office or on-calls to have their appointments booked or confirmed. They can schedule appointments with an online appointment scheduling software at their convenience, even after office hours and on week-offs. 

Less time consuming

Irrespective of how skilled the front desk receptionist is, an online appointment scheduling system will prove to be far more efficient and will reduce manual errors. Not only that, but with a system that allows customers to schedule appointments on their own, you can direct your resources toward more important tasks at hand. You can also use the software to track metrics such as client count, wait time, and upcoming appointments, which further helps you work strategically, thereby driving the success of your practice. 

Fill appointment gaps

Nothing is worse than having an appointment cancelled at the last minute. While it’s physically impossible to fill in the gaps, an online appointment scheduling software can work wonders. This can be beneficial for those people who are looking for an emergency appointment or a time-sensitive appointment. These customers pick up those time slots that are now empty as a result of cancellation. So an appointment scheduling system can help you fill in those gaps and make up for the revenue lost. 

Provide a better patient experience

By offering customers to book their own appointments, you are offering excellent customer service even before the appointment. You are demonstrating that you value the time of your customers. Nobody wants to wait in long queues or be kept on hold. Online appointment scheduling eliminates such inconvenience, thereby providing a better customer experience. 

Types of online appointment scheduling

For healthcare practitioners, scheduling can be done in four ways: 

  1. Time specified scheduling: Also known as fixed appointment scheduling, single booking, or stream scheduling; this type of scheduling is used to maintain a steady patient inflow and reduce wait times. In this, the time for attending to each pet varies between 15-45 minutes. When you create a stream schedule, keep the possibility of patient overload in mind and save some space for urgent visits. 
  2. Wave scheduling: In this type of schedule, the medical assistant sets appointments for 4 to 6 patients each hour. Depending on the order of their arrival, the patients are attended to by the doctor. Though such a system poses no issues when one patient is late and the other is on time. But if all patients are on time, who will the vet attend to first? This creates conflicts between the patients and no one wants to wait. So while this system saves appointment times, it can sometimes lead to conflicts. 
  3. Open booking: In the open booking scheduling, there isn’t a specific time of appointment; instead the patient is given a time slot to visit the clinic. For instance, patients can be given a time slot of 12-2 pm, which gives them the flexibility to arrive at the practice as per their convenience. However, it works only in practices that don’t experience heavy patient inflow. 
  4. Double booking: In this type of scheduling, there is a single time slot scheduled for two patients simultaneously. The double booking scheduling is ideal in the case of performing a diagnostic procedure for one of the patients or in the case of emergencies. 

Tips for successful online appointment scheduling

If you are running a practice, then here are some top ideas for effective online appointment scheduling that you must keep in mind: 

  • Establish a sound routine 

To streamline operations, make sure that your front desk is well-versed with the appointment scheduling software. Train your staff to keep the smooth inflow of patients, ensure proper patient intake and handle tough situations. 

  • Time management is key 

Booking appointments can be a time-consuming process. So, make sure you have your mornings dedicated to booking appointments, and then you can have the rest of the day to attend to your patients. 

  • Save space for walk-ins and emergencies

For you, every patient is important, both in terms of providing care and also generating revenue. In addition to receiving appointment bookings, you might also experience emergencies and direct walk-ins. Do not ignore those opportunities. You can always have another practitioner specifically for handling such cases. 

  • Offer multiple channels for scheduling appointments

When you give an option for your customers to book appointments at their convenience, give them the choice to book appointments through multiple channels such as your website, mobile app, and social media channels. Not only will this drive in more bookings but will also enhance the online presence of your practice. 

  • Encourage advanced booking

In order to maintain a steady inflow of patients, it is always advisable that you encourage advanced booking of appointments. With this, you can plan your day accordingly. 

How to help patients book appointments seamlessly 

In addition to making appointment booking easy for your staff, you also need to take care of your customers every time they head to any of your channels to book appointments. For the same, you need to have a script ready that garners all the important details you need to understand their needs and provide the best possible treatment. 

Here’s all the information you can collect from your patients: 

  • Type of care needed
  • Whether the customer is a first-timer or an existing one
  • If the patient has been diagnosed by another doctor
  • Address and contact details of the patient
  • Demographics 

How Emitrr’s real-time online appointment scheduling software can seal the deal for you

If you are looking for an online appointment scheduling software for your practice, Emitrr’s capabilities can ease out the process for you. You can save hours’ worth of hard work and hassle pertaining to booking appointments, by allowing your patients to book their own appointments. You can send a link to your website for them to book appointments and can also send automated appointment confirmations and reminders through email and text to avoid no-shows and cancellations. 

Online appointment scheduling

Conclusion 

Providing excellent patient care and ensuring patient satisfaction can prove to be challenging for both your clients as well as staff. With an online appointment scheduling system in place, you can eliminate all the inefficiencies and drive growth and revenue for your practice. To integrate your CRM with Emitrr’s capabilities, book a demo. 

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